Voxel-Ux

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Reviews

Zeitgeist: Addendum
(2008)

An alternative.
This film was created, edited, directed, scored, etc., by Peter Joseph.

The subject matter centres on the redundancy of the present American system of government, money, democracy and cultural conditioning and uses this as a basis to explain all that is wrong with the United States and World Power in general. A lengthy and detailed effort is made to support these views and the views of like-minded individuals interviewed for this presentation. It also offers another way of viewing how the world could be and, in reality, could exist on a more successful level that would be less harmful and more beneficial for all humanity. Even rare film footage of the great Krishnamurti making a speech on how to free one's self from the tyranny of oppression is used both in the beginning and the end of the film to support this ideology.

A most convincing argument indeed to present to those steadfast in the belief that the present anachronistic system is either a successful one, or indeed the only one available to a very troubled world in which we are slaves to a powerful few bent on profit and not humanity. Technology is suggested as the most important external tangible means of cultural survival and fulfillment by describing the ideals put forward by The Venus Project and pulls no punches in straining to get across the benefits and logic of switching to this more mature and sane outlook.

The film is well researched and intelligently put together and most intriguing to watch. It also offers a practical way to 'do one's bit' in order to invest in the transformation for those convinced by the arguments presented. The only drawback would lie in creating suspicion in some people who may be put off by the concluding speech which asks to join the project to make a change as this may have a 'cult-like' connotation.

Nonetheless, it certainly made me think...

Brother
(2000)

It's not all about violence
After my first introduction to Takeshi ("Beat") Kitano through Batoru rowaiaru and Batoru rowaiaru II: Chinkonka, my interest was aroused. Therefore I sat down to watch Brother, via Film4, peppered with positive expectation. I was not disappointed.

There is something about the man Kitano which is most intriguing. This element of the man translates onto his films most effectively. Fortunately I was completely ignorant as to what to expect from Brother except the rudimentary blurb within my television programme guide. Immediately, upon seeing Kitano, I was transfixed. Within his acting he carries the ability shared only with Steve McQueen which can only be summed up through a critic's quote I read once in the 70s referring to McQueen, "He can act with the back of his head". Mr Kitano possesses this same gift. Add to this the fact that he wrote, edited, directed and starred in Brother only stimulates my interest in the man to a greater degree.

Beat Takeshi has a menace about him and his character within this film is unpredictable or, as a line in this film commented: inscrutable. Perfect for the character of Aniki. Despite the violence within this epic the film is primarily Kitano's character and relationships.

True, he goes from incident to incident placing himself in ever more perilous situations as this is the character of the story but I see more to the film than this surface fundamental impression. The film appears to be more in line with the title: Brother. It is a story centring on relationships, albeit relationships within quite a turbulent backdrop. The violence should not get all the focus.

Another reviewer mentioned tying this film to such stories as Reservoir Dogs; but I disagree. Relationships, made clear in the dénouement, strengthen this argument. One knows the background of Aniki, a violent and nefarious fellow, but his character, the character of the man, outshines what he actively does in the story, objectively speaking. His relationship with the superbly acted Omar Epps as Denny is touching. Clearly the highlight of the film.

Well done, Takeshi Kitano. Well done.

John and Yoko: A Love Story
(1985)

Just a love story.
This tele-film is visually and, to a lesser degree, audibly charming in favour of suspending one's disbelief that we are actually a fly-on-the-wall witnessing John Lennon and Yoko Ono from their initial beginning together to their final and tragic end. The period covered, therefore, is from 1966 to 1980. The Beatles' score and solo work are used to help convey the story mirroring the feelings felt at the time even though chronologically it can be inaccurate at times. But no matter, as I said above, it adds to the study of emotion that this film is all about: A Love Story.

Now this is where it falls apart for me. The film becomes a rather syrupy soap opera and is too light weight. The film uses the interesting lives of two famous people in order to relate a love story, but this is strictly my own disappointment for something more. Objectively the film delivers what the title promises but do not expect a Beatles Anthology-type retrospective. The viewpoint is very one sided but this, too, is in keeping with the filmmaker's concept.

I mentioned earlier the film was too light weight. As a tele-film this is usually the case but I don't see it as an excuse for average production values. Technically, the film is rather amateurish. Standard camera work, poor lighting and poor film quality, but this may be due to funds. Also, the story hops along rather abruptly leaving the impression the film is more a story based on pages of a photo album with little cohesion to the lives of two people. But, to be fair, it may be asking too much to make the story segue successfully as film length is an important consideration.

In conclusion, despite my criticism, the film is enjoyable in a casual way and not a complete waste of time to view providing one does not enter into it too seriously.

The Indian Runner
(1991)

It's all in the details.
This was Sean Penn's first directorial effort and with this effort he has managed to paint a vivid portrait of human nature. David Morse being the natural actor he is holds the film together like the hub of a wheel while various incidents radiate outwards from him like spokes of a wheel. I shan't involve myself in explanations of these incidents as I leave that to you to observe but I will reflect upon the tableau of the film.

Mr Penn has managed to capture a very realistic interpretation of a certain class of society. Its quirks are endearing through its realism and may be disturbing to some who are not familiar with the "everyman" view of society. Yes, it is a very American film but this does not deter one from appreciation who may not be American. There are a smattering of the odd folks one finds in small town life and the general downbeat feel may have contributed to this film's lack of general recognition. Pity. This film is outstanding and contains many undercurrents that are indeed provocative.

I must also comment on how well composed and executed Indian Runner is with regards to technique. Lighting, soundtrack, locations and sets are superbly chosen leaving one to ponder that this appears to be a film from a well-seasoned director and not just a first attempt.

As a last comment I found it very interesting how as the film progresses past the first hour Viggo Mortensen is almost transformed into a Sean Penn character in both looks and actions. Do give Indian Runner a viewing and witness a superb bit of film-making.

The Ghost Camera
(1933)

Destined to be remade
A camera is found on the back seat of a motorcar. This camera is discovered by the owner of the car and here the mystery commences for the man.

He goes on a search to find the owner of the camera as it is a top-of-the-range model in order to return it and decides reluctantly to develop the exposed film in the hopes of finding a clue to the owner. Once the film is developed (he just happens to have all the equipment necessary to develop the film handy in his home) he embarks on unravelling the clues. As each clue is translated, other doors open which lead to further mystery until the story's dreadful conclusion.

Regrettably, the film has no finesse, a flaw which many films, but not all, of this time are guilty. The intensity of the mystery and how it is directed is restrained and the acting is conventional for that era. Nonetheless, in the right hands this story could work extremely well as an 'edge-of-the-seat' thriller.

I am unaware of another film made with a similar plot and believe a skillful remake would be entirely engaging. Despite the aforementioned criticism on the direction and acting it is worth a single viewing for the unique plot alone. I am surprised Hitchcock did not attempt a version.

Britain's Best Buildings
(2002)

A fascinating summary of British Architecture
This on-going series of essays explores the history behind various known, and lesser known, British buildings. Dan Cruikshank's writing and presentation is subtly engaging allowing his gentle manner to draw you in to the fascinating world of a particular building.

Although the facts are represented in a bullet point fashion it is thorough and nonetheless edifying. One is inspired to not only do personal research on the particular subject but to actually visit the site oneself. Mr Cruikshank presents it that deliciously.

I am pleased Britain's Best Buildings is still being produced and take time out specifically to watch this excellent series and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in history or in Britain or, of course, in both.

Scum
(1979)

The most shocking things are those portrayed as real
I have not much more to add to the list of excellent points made by the other submitters except for the fact that the film is only shocking if one expects the usual fiction.

Scum, directed by Alan Clarke, is more a statement than a film. It is contrived to point out the internal situations within a borstal hidden from the eyes of the general public. As much as I enjoyed the film its contrivance was a bit forced, but the limit of time (just over 90 minutes) can make this point forgivable. The conclusion was also too abrupt for my liking and needed to be 'filled out' more before ending the film.

Yes, there were those scenes involving violence, rape and other examples of domination throughout but these are used to stress the point of the story. They should not be viewed as in many violent films as a form of entertainment. Scum would be shocking to the general public, but if a valid point is to be made I would advise viewers to take it all in its context. Due to the lack of gratuity I rate this film very highly and suggest to any first-time viewers to approach Scum with a serious aspect, not to be 'entertained'.

I recommend the films 'If...' (Dir: Lindsay Anderson) and 'Made In Britain' (Dir: Alan Clarke) if the film Scum appeals to you.

The Amazing World of Kreskin
(1972)

The galloping gourmet of the paranormal world
'The Amazing Kreskin' was a low budget programme produced in Canada in the early 1970s. The format was rather basic with Kreskin before an audience in an environment that would not be out of place at a university lecture hall where he would perform acts of mentalism, or the illusion of mind reading, to astound his public.

His television show appeared once a week when new, to my memory. At best it was merely a side-show event which bored me senseless. Today this programme would appear dated by fashion and production, but, even though I have no interest in mentalism, his show would still entertain those who like this sort of thing.

The Worst Jobs in History
(2004)

Another historical winner from Tony Robinson
Excellent and engaging series of programmes focusing on various distasteful professions from the different ages of England since (roughly) 1066.

Once again Tony Robinson (of Blackadder fame) takes his interest in history down another avenue from his Time Team series. Whether it be Tudor or Georgian or any of the other ages of the past 900 years or so one is able to get a glimpse of the jobs on the lower rung of the ladder. Not only does Mr Robinson speak in his usual easy manner of the facts behind his choices but also gets his hands dirty by having a go himself. Swallowing a toad or being knee-high in urine to step into the shoes of those from the past do not deter him from realising the former hardships that once affected individuals whose task it was to perform these duties. Not for the squeamish indeed.

I have always looked forward to Mr Robinson's programmes and this one was certainly not a disappointment. I look forward to more of his efforts in the future. Truly enjoyable and edifying.

The Reincarnate
(1971)

Surprisingly engaging...
Yes, a surprisingly engaging low budget film. What is of interest is the film's ability to convey a very thick atmosphere for the arts and of reincarnation. It is chock full of the usual kitsch associated with minimal budget films (filmed in Toronto, by the way) but this is of no consequence. Both Jack Creley and Jay Reynolds work well together and are excellent actors in their own right.

Pretty much a forgotten film now I would recommend at least a single viewing and for those frightened by horror films your desire to be "creeped out" will be satisfied. Like The Shining the horror is more in the story than in shocking images. It will envelop you and you will want to see it again.

7 out of 10.

Made in Britain
(1982)

Just adding to the praise...
I first saw this episode of a few in the series when it was first released and was immediately taken by the story, as well as the performance of Tim Roth.

At the time I tried to find more things that Roth had done on his performance alone in Made In Britain but couldn't. Only years later, thanks to IMDB (cheers guys) did I realise that it was his first major role.

Back to the film. Set in the London I know I could relate to Trevor (Roth) as I was experiencing a similar thing at the time. A youth pushed into an attitude related to the Thatcher ideals of that time which kicked against the system of authority and its patronising values. The film (although intended as a television programme, but now can be viewed as a film in its own right) had all the zeitgeist required for one living in Britain, especially London, at that time. My friends and I spoke of it with much praise as we could relate to its sentiments. Events like the Brixton riots were indicative of such feelings.

Can this film still be relevant today? Frankly, yes. Britain was changing back in '81-'82 in many ways and appears to be swinging in a similar way once again. Only time will tell.

It is a gritty, documentary-style film that holds little back of an individual on a collision course with the imagined or real oppressor. Self-destructing because he feels it is his only freedom. Engaging and somewhat prophetic. You choose. I have not seen the film for many years now but relish the opportunity to view it again.

Cord
(2000)

Absolutely appalling.
It is not often I watch a film that is as dreadful as this one. I continued to watch, every minute hoping that this was intended as a joke only to find it was meant to be taken seriously. Well, as seriously as this genre requests.

The acting was disgraceful and the situations horribly contrived and clichéd. If a film was made in 1920 (for example) and had the quality of Hide & Seek (Cord) in its direction we would think that cinema back then was naive. As it happens, this film was made in 2000 and I have yet to see a film from the silent era that has as little charm as this one.

Definitely not for the serious movie-goer.

[Not worth a rating]

THX 1138
(1971)

Past impressions.
It has been a while now since I have seen this film and purchasing it on DVD is one of the many tasks I have yet to complete. Nevertheless, the film's impression upon me has not dimmed.

It has been said that THX 1138 is tedious, the visuals confusing but the overall impression intriguing. On the surface this may be a reasonable analysis but I believe it goes a little further than this.

The film appears to be generated with a perfect atmosphere for what it tries to convey: a sterile environment where little makes sense. We are placed in the film as a confused onlooker as bizarre images are presented to us, forcing us all along to think, "where is this all going?" and still we have little idea what to make of it all. The audience is almost dropped in midway into a parallel universe of sorts and we try to "catch up" on the goings on.

We gather there is a plight involving the main character struggling against oppressors and enduring much inhumanity in the process. Yes, the dialogue is cold but this enhances the overall sterlity of the landscape along with, if memory serves, the bland colours in the surroundings. The twist is, of course, the final scene where we all gather what the earlier "plight" was for but in the meanwhile we are given hints at what an almost total control by those in power may create.

I offer apologies that my memory may not be as reliable in my account but the feeling this film left with me has granted this foray a top notch spot in film history. Do not under-estimate it and do not view it in a spoon-fed sense for it will most likely disappoint. Try to view it as an expression of one man's vision and see it expressed as coldly as the vision itself.

Two final notes, and again apologies if these have already been stated. Firstly, I believe the original making of this film was a college project by the young Lucas and the finished product is the result of his being recognised by the big studio and granted a second chance to direct it with a greater budget. Secondly, the letters THX have remained with Lucas ever since in one way or another. For instance, in American Graffiti the number plate on John's Yellow Deuce Coupe is THX 138. Interesting.

Collateral Damage
(2002)

Not what it seems...
This film does not profess to be deep or meaningful in any logical sense; it is unashamedly there to be viewed emotionally.

To me it is not a film about terrorism or revenge but a film about about a "national heroes" and the interpretation and definition of a "hero". Of course it can be seen easily as a story of the tragedies of terrorists and the sense for revenge but I felt it went in another direction. In the beginning he is one type of hero (fireman) and at the end another type, but along the way he is a changed man. Has he changed for the better? Like most heroes (in the mythic sense) the main character is essentially single-minded and "psychotic". When the tragedy of Schwarzeneggar's family hits home he sits and mopes for a while and eventually gets pushed over the edge (see him going beserk in the office, and the careful showing of his over-sweet home life with his family before the event in contrast?). These metaphors only build to show a man who is now gone over the edge.

Fine. He takes matters almost immediately into his own hands to go to Columbia and deal with the situation with apparent ease (and with more stealth than the officials who should be better at this than him). This can be seen as an example of the duress he feels (know the one about the mother lifting a car to save her child?) and why he manages to achieve this with little personal injury. He, bit by bit, achieves his final goal in the film with a brief conversation with the main terrorist about the difference between both men's motives for killing in the first place. But this is all beside the point.

Basically the film is about a man who has a breakdown and goes to Columbia to exorcise his demons and gets awarded a medal of honour (a national hero, right? - but wait a minute, the terrorist is a hero too in his country) in the end for doing so because it also happens that his actions work conveniently for the government. The other characters have no depth (due to Arnie's tunnel vision throughout to achieve his goal) and this is why the movie is odd. It appears to reward the end and not the means. How it all "seems" to be in the end and not the motives of a bloke who is obviously unbalanced. Remember the line from "Cliffhangar"? "Kill one person, and you are a murderer. Kill thousands and you are a conqueror." It is all interpretation. I suppose we could also say that being single-minded and doing all we can to defeat evil also makes one a conqueror and hero. One to be emulated or admired. Regardless of the means. the two main characters are not as different as they appear in their own perspective. Propaganda.

Nonetheless, for Hollywood to present a story of this nature (and there have been many previous) has allowed me to enjoy this film with the above view in mind as it smacks of the hypocrisy we see in all Nationalistic story-tellings. And let's face it, clichés are good entertainment! So don't watch this film with the mind that wants to see action. View it and reflect upon it. We have all been there in one way, shape or form.

The Weak and the Wicked
(1954)

A polite prison drama.
This is a prison film by a director I personally have always admired: J Lee-Thompson. It centres around the Jean Raymond character (Glynis Johns) of a woman entering prison for fraud. I can say this without it being a spoiler because the fact she entered gaol, and why, has nothing to do with the plot (there is no plot really) except used merely as a vehicle to start the film rolling.

Once rolling, Johns meets various other female prisoners while incarcerated and to almost each one the film fades into a vignette of the "facts" that led each one to wind up in prison. It is definitely a film of its time, a strikingly clichéd British film of the '30s, '40s and early '50s style and was made with a method dying out by the mid-50's when British cinema began a darker more realistic mode of direction.

This film has nothing on many earlier American prison dramas ("20,000 Years in Sing Sing" some twenty years before for example) but the film was never intended in my opinion to be anything overtly powerful. Though there is no direct sermonising about right and wrong written into the film it was directed intentionally to make one think what prison may be like (at least for that generation) while the film rides on a very comfortable sponge through tranquil waters, despite trying to focus on rehabilitation. Very muddled.

Regrettably, the film's earlier momentum starts to fizzle out about halfway through as the vignettes continually are sugar-coated (the only possible exception is the story of the gaoled women in the infirmary involving her baby) and the acting is rather appalling with a rather dreadful ending by today's terms. Even the attempt at humour with Sid James's family is more sad than funny (perhaps that was the intention).

Not one of Lee-Thompson's best and I rate it a generous 2 out of 5 stars but is worth a single sitting as a curio.

Paul Bernard, Psychiatrist
(1971)

A great yawn...
My memory of this programme is not the clearest (as the show is a little old now) but I was in Canada at the time and used to try to watch this "drama" about a psychiatrist, with patient on couch, trying to help them with their troubled lives. Time after time I tried to see something redeeming in this show but couldn't, except that Chris Wiggins was in it, one whom I feel is an accomplished actor plagued all his life by poor choices of scripts.

Back to the show. Paul Bernard would lean forward, engrossed with his patient, and speak in a gentle voice as the patient (I always remember them to be "attractive" women dressed in appalling late-60s early-70s fashion) unravelled some banal problem that blackened their shallow lives. Dreadful! The programme reminds me much of very early Australian soaps and is perfect for two things: 1. curing sleep disorders and 2. breeding a new generation of homicidal maniacs. For me, the former was accomplished.

Grace of My Heart
(1996)

Ho-hum
A rather strange programmer. The acting does not get a chance to blossom regrettably as this could have been an interesting realisation on the ups and downs of one section of the music business.

The story dwells a little too much on the cop-out soap opera angle while simultaneously trying to reveal an unconventional life. Sure, people are pretty much the same no matter what their experience but it rests far too heavily upon this one thing we, in my view, see far too much of in films. The life and loves of a musician is not a good enough reason to make a film.

It also appears that the director was trying a little too hard to make a film that would be different. I would say that films such as "Stardust" or "That'll Be The Day" conveyed the life of the music business successfully; and I do not consider those films 'great'. So, I give this film a humble 5 out of 10 solely for its value in offering something to watch on television on a slow night. A great cure for insomnia.

Mad Max 2
(1981)

Mad Action to the Max...
Like most films of this genre we cannot expect Shakespeare. It falls in with such films as "Hot Rods From Hell", "Death Race 2000", and "Psychomania" in the sense of lawless attitude and a lot of driving. So, it can be sold to the viewing public who enjoy such themes.

Here we have a post-apocalyptic country (unnamed, but obviously Australia), desolate, anarchic, seemingly uninhabitable. Bank note currency has now been replaced by petrol as the basic need to get on with life yet it appears from the characters that this is obtained more for doing doughnuts on motorcycles and driving aimlessly (needing petrol to get transport to hunt for more petrol, ad infinitum) when this resource could be better used for running generators for pumps and electricity to restart a better life.

We have the good guys (the refinery group) and the bad guys (the nomadic outlaws) and the basic premise is that the latter want what the former have: petrol. Also, the refinery clan are decent and the outlaws barbaric. Here we have society as we know it, though exaggerated. It is reminiscent slightly of the film "On The Beach", also set partly in Australia.

Next we have our eponimous hero Max. When last we saw him we found him a disillusioned police interceptor, fed up with the bad guys winning. And later he goes completely over the edge. Apparently society kicks him again in the groin by getting itself blown up and we have the start of Road Warrior. The narrative tells us he is now an empty shell of a man amd we are to wonder if he may or may not have some decency left (similar to the film "Spawn"). Several scenes later after we are introduced to how barbaric his world is he falls in with the good guys and here begins his reclamation.

Yes, it is a violent and gory road movie with few seemingly redeeming qualities besides just action. But we can sift through it to find the basis of many ancient myths involving the struggle of good and evil, struggle with the self's inner demons, and the ability to pull one's self up even just a little, though this is tenuous.

Despite some inconsistencies such as the little feral boy being more barbaric than his civilised kin (though the child played the part well) and, as mentioned above, the lack of propriety with the best use of fuel, this film is more entertaining than edifying and my comments above will be mostly lost in the action sequences. Nonetheless, an enjoyable film which can viewed more than once. Look out for Virginia Hey from Farscape playing the tough woman from the refinery.

A Clockwork Orange
(1971)

Absolutely Unique.
The film based on the book is an intriguing view of choice, personality and the morality of society and the media. It centres around the main character, Alex de Large, and his gang of young adventurers who terrorise people for the sheer pleasure of it. But this is not the point of the story. The story is concerned ultimately with the right to choose how to live: to be an individual. Should a criminal be kept essentially human by being allowed to live criminally, as is his nature or nurture, and be punished for their crimes, or be transformed into a "good person" through deliberate conditioning for the safety of other citizens?

The film takes great effort to reveal points on both sides in the backdrop of a strange nihilistic, almost cyber-punk world with fine acting, direction, and atmospheric music by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos. The film was banned in Britain by the director, Stanley Kubrick, until recently which added to the mystic of the film, at least here in Britain.

This is a film to watch and in my view, the first film of this genre recognisable today as a "modern film" in its execution and, in some cases, a truer representation of today than one may, at first, realise.

A Clockwork Orange
(1971)

Absolutely Unique.
The film based on the book is an intriguing view of choice, personality and the morality of society and the media. It centres around the main character, Alex de Large, and his gang of young adventurers who terrorise people for the sheer pleasure of it. But this is not the point of the story. The story is concerned ultimately with the right to choose how to live: to be an individual. Should a criminal be kept essentially human by being allowed to live criminally, as is his nature or nurture, and be punished for their crimes, or be transformed into a "good person" through deliberate conditioning for the safety of other citizens?

The film takes great effort to reveal points on both sides in the backdrop of a strange nihilistic, almost cyber-punk world with fine acting, direction, and atmospheric music by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos. The film was banned in Britain by the director, Stanley Kubrick, until recently which added to the mystic of the film, at least here in Britain.

This is a film to watch and in my view, the first film of this genre recognisable today as a "modern film" in its execution and, in some cases, a truer representation of today than one may, at first, realise.

Waiting for God
(1990)

Cynically sweet.
Here we have a programme centring around two elderly and cynical people in a retirement home located in Britain's version of Florida: Bournemouth. Did I say elderly? Well, only in age, not attitude. Take one Tom Ballard, a gentleman deposited by his son into the retirement home who is one half of the cynical pair. Although cynical, his character expresses this with good humour and resignation, philosophy, and plays upon the ageist attitude that old people are helpless and eccentric, leaving one to wonder whether he is actually mad, or just pretending to be.

The other half, Diana, a worldly woman who sees the effects of society's attitude toward the old now that she is of retirement age and, in contrast to Tom, vents spleen any chance she gets, usually towards Harvey, the young man who runs the Home whose character is a composite of the 20-40 yuppy age group's attitude towards those beyond 65.

The humour is quick-firing, very British, and also pulls no punches with regards to attitudes and observations of society during the latter half of the 80s and into the 90s. All told, an excellent series that will take a long time in the future before it seems dated.

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